Who hasn’t queued at the in-store customer service desk to have their warranty stamped? Who hasn’t spent hours figuring out which brand service centre to take a faulty product to? And there are many more, similar nuisances we could add. However, changes in the warranty regulations are set to put an end to these from next year. But what’s good for consumers represents a major additional burden for vendors.
When selling consumer goods, the vendor must provide a warranty. So, if our recently purchased kitchen appliance, washing machine, lamp or clock stops working, we should be able to ask the shop that sold it to us to repair or replace it, or perhaps refund us the purchase price. As with other things though, the devil is in the detail. But due to a recently published government decree, these details are set to change from 1 January next year, and essentially in favour of the consumer.
And for drones too…
From January, the range of products that vendors will need to provide warranties for will increase. Not that the list has been short until now: it already includes virtually all household goods, furniture, sports equipment and musical instruments. However, from January, warranties will need to be issued for products such as doors and windows, shutters, bathtubs and taps, and, in keeping with the advances of the modern age, the legislators have also included products such as solar panels, solar systems, electric scooters and drones among the products requiring a warranty.
Banded system instead of one term for all
Standard warranties can currently be enforced within one year for all products. This approach is set to be replaced by a banded system, and from 1 January the sale price of the product will determine the length of the warranty. From then on, the one-year deadline will only apply to products that cost from HUF 10,000 to HUF 100,000. Above that, consumers will benefit from a two-year warranty for products of up to HUF 250,000 and from a three-year warranty above that.
The e-warranty is here
Another positive change for consumers is that they will no longer have to queue up at in-store customer service desks to get their warranties validated if they don’t want to. As an alternative, the new government decree is introducing an electronic warranty, which the store must provide to the customer on the day after the product has been released, at the latest. This can be done by email or via a download link. In the latter case, an important requirement is that the document be kept available until the end of the warranty period, i.e. for up to 3 years if applicable.
The options available for enforcing the warranty will also change to the advantage of consumers. In the future, the customer will not have to return the defective product to the repair centre indicated on the warranty; it will be sufficient to return it to the seller’s premises, i.e. to the store where it was bought. In other words, say we bought something at Media Markt and it breaks down; we can take it back to Media Markt and the store will be responsible for getting it fixed for us.
Another important change is that from January the law will help prevent the repair from dragging on, by imposing strict deadlines. The vendor will have 30 days from the date of the request to repair the product. If it fails to do so, the new rules allow the consumer to immediately request that the product be replaced or that the store refund the purchase price – and this must be done within 8 days. The replacement or refund within 8 days will also be mandatory if the product fails again after three repairs.
The other side of the coin…
Positive change for consumers means, of course, a major additional burden for both retailers and manufacturers. Not only will they be responsible for ensuring the fault-free functioning of the product for a longer period of time, they’ll also have a shorter time in which to fix the product. And they’ll also have to arrange for the product to be delivered for repair. This may require substantial preparation and planning on the part of these businesses. Perhaps the only good news for retailers is that they’ll just about dodge the Christmas blitz: the new rules only apply to products sold in 2021.
By Gabor Kerekes, Attorney at Law, Jalsovszky